How and Why to Fry Rice Before Boiling

Published

Rice. Cultures throughout the world use rice a billion different ways. On its own, rice can be a mild flavor and texture in a dish. Most often, cooks combat the natural blandness with boiling, salt, sugar, and other toppings. But did you know that there is another way to maximize the flavor of rice? If you want a more flavorful rice dish, then you should try frying rice before cooking it.

You read that right.

Why You Should Fry Rice Before Cooking

Frying rice before boiling it involves a brief pan fry or saute or toasting of the grains, making the rice a little brown before it goes into the water. Doing so is beneficial for a couple of reasons.

By heating the rice before boiling, you separate the grains. This helps the rice cook more evenly and prevents it from sticking together. Additionally, preheating the rice before you cook it will make it cook more quickly and consistently.

But there is another reason that most people overlook. Rice, no matter the kind, is loaded with starches. By frying rice before cooking it, you change the starch. Rather than getting sticky starch during boiling, you caramelize it instead. This reduces the amount of starch and makes the rice tastier and fluffier.

How to Saute Rice Before Cooking

Toasting rice before you boil it is one of the best kept secrets of cooking. It’s a simple addition that adds tremendous flavor to any entree. The step doesn’t add much to your preparation time, either.

Traditionally, pilaf is a style of rice that was toasted prior to boiling. This gives pilaf that delicious nuttiness and hearty texture.

So how do you toast rice?

You start with the same first step, always. If you are using dry rice from a bag, you need to wash it first.

After that, bring the appropriate amount of water to a boil for cooking your rice. You may have to adjust the ratio somewhat, depending on how sticky you want the rice.

While you wait for the water to boil, add some cooking oil or butter in a pan. You don’t need a lot of oil or butter. It should be enough to coat the rice—not smother it. Let the oil or butter heat up before adding the rice. Then gently toss the rice, letting it toast. You will begin to smell a nutty fragrance and see the grains browning.

As soon as the rice is browned, take it off the heat. You don’t want the grains to burn. Now that you have fried the rice a little, it’s time to continue cooking it as you normally would.

Keep in mind that you may have to reduce the cook time by a few minutes, since the rice has already been heated through.

frying rice

How to Toast Rice to Suit Any Meal

Now, is there only one way to toast rice? Absolutely not. Rice can soak up various flavors, based on the oils, seasonings, or butter used. If you want a taste or fragrance that matches your recipe, choose oils with character. Olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil are all excellent options.

For example, if you want rice for an East Asian dish, a nut or sesame oil is better than olive oil. Thai cooking is just one instance where sesame and peanut are used in abundance. By adding in some rice that has been toasted with sesame oil, you can increase the wow factor of your dish.

Mediterranean cooking can be bolstered by rice toasted in olive oil, while more Middle Eastern meals will taste fantastic with rice that was sauteed in butter. Similarly, if you plan on serving up something creamy or hearty, like a curry or stew, frying rice in butter or coconut oil will give it an airy, buttery texture that complements the meal.

Should I Use Seasonings When Toasting Rice?

You might be hesitant to add more to your rice as it browns in the pan. But you’re really missing an opportunity to get even more flavor in each grain. Seasonings, particularly aromatic ones, can jazz up any kind of rice. Shallots, ginger, garlic, onion, and other herbs and spices are a good place to start.

You don’t need a lot of seasoning either. Let the nuttiness of toasted rice play the main role. A light dash of seasoning goes a long way. Add your aromatics to the rice right before you take it off the heat. Afterwards, cook the rice according to the recipe.

Final Thoughts

So you thought there was only one way to make rice? Think again! Toasting, sauteing, or frying rice before boiling it works like magic. The end result is rice that smells heavenly and tastes ambrosial in any dish. Why not give it a try the next time you use rice?

FAQs

Why do you fry rice before cooking?

Frying rice before cooking reduces the starches in the rice and helps it cook more evenly when boiled. You also get more flavor out of the rice, increasing the deliciousness of your dishes.

Can you fry uncooked rice?

Yes, frying uncooked rice is a move that enhances the quality of the rice, giving it more flavor, fluffiness, and aroma.

How do you saute rice before cooking?

Sautéing rice before boiling it is easy. Choose an oil or butter that complements the recipe you are making and heat it in a fry pan. Add your uncooked rice to the pan and toss the grains in the oil or butter. As the grains start to caramelize (turn golden brown) and you smell a nutty scent, remove the rice from the heat and put it into boiling water. Cook as you usually would from there.

Should I toast rice before cooking?

It is definitely worth trying! If you ever thought that your rice dishes were coming out too bland, toasting rice before boiling it is a wonderful option. You will get better flavor, texture, and aroma from your rice every time.